Will Tenneray and Abe Cross are two famous gunfighters who are getting old and need money. Cross tried his luck at gold prospecting but failed. Tenneray works at the local saloon where he capitalizes on his past fame to "sucker fools into buying drinks". The town expects them to become enemies and kill each other in a gunfight but the two aging gunfighters start liking one another. Desperate for money, Tenneray suggests to Cross to put on a show for the townsfolk and fight in an arena for money. The proceeds from the ticket sales would go to the winner of the gunfight. Both men like the idea of a paid show but hate the possibility of one of them killing the other.Written by
On this film's second US network airing, ABC-TV cut it to fit into a 90-minutes-with-commercials time slot, excising the sub-plot about the businessman who bet on Tenneray only after Cross had assured him that nothing would happen. See more »
I think one should watch A Gunfight after seeing Gregory Peck's classic film The Gunfighter. It gives you definitely an alternative vision.
Imagine Peck's character of Jim Ringo not being killed by back-shooting Skip Homeier, but actually settling down with his wife and son. That's essentially what you've got in Kirk Douglas's character of Will Tenneray who finds retired life not what it's cracked up to be.
The days of the wild west are over and Douglas now makes a living appearing at the local saloon and encouraging folks to spend there. He's like some prominent sports figure who is a greeter out in Las Vegas and if you're a big enough spender you might get to play golf or party with him. But it's one dull life even with wife Jane Alexander and young son Eric Douglas.
Along comes Johnny Cash playing another gunfighter relic whose horse gets bit by a rattler. Now he's stuck in this New Mexico border town and with two legends of the west in this place, the gossip commences.
Cash is similarly bored by his existence and the two of them, both cash poor decide on a duel to the death with admission charged at a bullfight arena across the border in Mexico. Literally winner take all. These guys must have felt like gladiators.
A Gunfight is certainly an interesting spin on some of the western nostrums that prevailed in Hollywood. Douglas and Cash are perfectly cast in the leads and get good support from the rest of the players. For myself I enjoyed Robert J. Wilke who for once is on the right side of the law playing the town marshal. Keith Carradine has a good role as a young punk who wants to take on the winner and Karen Black is fine as a saloon girl who Cash spends some time with.
I also never expected to find Raf Vallone in a western. But the Italian actor plays a Mexican store keeper who had been keeping discreet company with Alexander while Douglas was roaming the west. Certainly different from faithful Helen Westcott who raised her son and taught school while Gregory Peck was raising hell.
Who wins, you have to see for yourself. But in the end did it really matter as the film brings you an interesting conclusion.
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